Jurassic transgressions and regressions in the Caucasus

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Jurassic transgressions and regressions in the Caucasus
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422 – 436
Jurassic transgressions and regressions in the Caucasus
(northern Neotethys Ocean) and their influences
on the marine biodiversity
Dmitry A. Ruban
P.O. Box 7333, Rostov-na-Donu, 344056, Russia
Received 17 May 2006; received in revised form 26 February 2007; accepted 24 April 2007
In the Jurassic, the Caucasus, presently located in the southwest of Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, was located on
the northern active margin of the Neotethys Ocean. Facies interpretation in all 62 areas, distinguished by differences in facies,
allows to semi-quantitatively evaluate Jurassic regional transgressions and regressions for this region. Major transgressive
regressive cycles took place in the Hettangian–Aalenian, Bajocian–Bathonian and Callovian–Tithonian. Each transgression was
more extensive than the previous. The same cycles are established in the Greater Caucasus Basin. Deep-marine environments were
common in the Pliensbachian, late Aalenian and late Bathonian, whereas they were very restricted in the Late Jurassic. The Jurassic
transgressions and regressions in the Caucasus coincided with the proposed global eustatic changes. However, some differences
were caused by the regional tectonic activity. Although transgressions and regressions cause some changes in marine biodiversity, it
seems that only ammonites might have been directly influenced by them. Diversity of bivalves, brachiopods and belemnites was
driven by other factors. However, global changes in marine biodiversity were more closely related to the eustatic fluctuations than
it was documented on a regional scale.
© 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Transgression; Regression; Eustasy; Biodiversity; Jurassic; Caucasus
1. Introduction
Global sea level fluctuated strongly during the Jurassic (Hallam, 1978; Haq et al., 1987; Hallam, 1988, 1992,
2001; Haq and Al-Qahtani, 2005). Special attention has
been paid to the intriguing question of how these changes
as well as regional transgressions and regressions influenced marine biodiversity (Wiedman, 1973; Hallam,
1975, 1977; Jablonski, 1980; Lehmann, 1981; Gygi, 1986;
Hallam, 1987; McRoberts and Aberhan, 1997; Hallam and
E-mail addresses: [email protected], [email protected]
0031-0182/$ - see front matter © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Wignall, 1999; O'Dogherty et al., 2000; Sandoval et al.,
2001a,b; Smith, 2001; Sarti, 2003; Ruban, 2004; Aberhan
et al., 2005; Ruban and Tyszka, 2005; Ruban, 2006a).
However, this question is not yet fully answered, and the
influence is still poorly understood.
In this paper, I will focus on Jurassic transgressions
and regressions in the Caucasus, a large region, stretching along the southern periphery of the Russian Platform
and embracing the territory of southwestern Russia,
Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan (Fig. 1). The few
previous studies addressed to regional transgressions and
regressions suggested that they were somewhat different
from those observed globally and elsewhere in Europe
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
Fig. 1. Geographical location of the studied region. GE — Georgia, AR — Armenia, AZ — Azerbaijan. Palaeogeographical map is simplified after
Scotese (2004). Geodynamic sketch is modified from Lordkipanidze et al. (1984), who used the geological and palaeomagnetic evidences.
(Ruban, 2004; Ruban and Tyszka, 2005; Ruban, 2006a).
The Late Jurassic history of the Caucasus is marked by
two remarkable events — the development of a carbonate platform with the growth of carbonate buildups
(Rostovtsev et al., 1992; Kuznetsov, 1993; Martin-Garin
et al., 2002; Akhmedov et al., 2003; Ruban, 2005a,
2006a; Tawadros et al., 2006) and a salinity crisis
(Jasamanov, 1978; Kuznetsov, 1993; Ruban, 2006a;
Tawadros et al., 2006). These events are interpreted as
controlled by the basin dynamics and climate, and to
document their relationships with transgressions and/or
regressions is intriguing.
In this paper, an attempt is made to detail and to semiquantitatively evaluate Jurassic transgressions and regressions in the Caucasus. The study area may serve as a
test region to investigate their influences on the marine
biodiversity. Previous studies have suggested that sealevel changes did not cause mass extinction among
brachiopods (Ruban, 2004) and foraminifers (Ruban and
Tyszka, 2005), and they did not control bivalve diversity
(Ruban, 2006a). Here the influences of the Jurassic
transgressions and regressions on ammonites, bivalves,
brachiopods and belemnites are considered.
2. Geological setting
The Caucasus is a large elongated region consisting
of three principal segments, the Greater Caucasus, the
Transcaucasian depressions (the Kura Depression and
the Rioni Depression), and the Lesser Caucasus (Fig. 1).
During the Jurassic, the Caucasus was located on the
northern margin of the Neotethys Ocean (Gamkrelidze,
1986; Dercourt et al., 2000; Stampfli and Borel, 2002;
Golonka, 2004; Tawadros et al., 2006; Ruban, 2006d).
Accretion of minor terranes along the southern margin
of the Russian Platform (also known as the Scythian
Platform) resulted in the development of several marine
basins, separated by island arcs (Lordkipanidze et al.,
1984; Ershov et al., 2003; Efendiyeva and Ruban, 2005;
Tawadros et al., 2006; Ruban, 2006d) (Fig. 1). The
geometry of these basins changed during the Jurassic
(Ruban, 2006d), but the evaluation of the changes and
their precise delineation have not yet been realized.
The Jurassic stratigraphy of the Caucasus was comprehensively presented by Prosorovskaya (1979) and
Rostovtsev et al. (1985, 1992). Ruban (2003, 2006b)
and Ruban and Pugatchev (2006) revised the regional
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
stratigraphy of the Western Caucasus and proposed a
new framework (Fig. 2), incorporating recent developments in Jurassic chronostratigraphy (Gradstein et al.,
2004; Gradstein and Ogg, 2005, 2006), including the
ratification of the Sinemurian, Aalenian and Bajocian
Global Standard Sections and Points (Pavia and Enay,
1997; Cresta et al., 2001; Bloos and Page, 2002), and
biostratigraphy (Cariou and Hantzpergue, 1997). The
Callovian Stage in the Caucasus is traditionally ascribed
to the Upper Jurassic (Rostovtsev et al., 1992; AliZadeh, 2004) which contradicts to the present International Stratigraphic Chart (Gradstein et al., 2004). The
palynological study of Gaetani et al. (2005) suggested a
late Bathonian age for the lower part of the Kamennomostskaja Formation. If so, the termination of the major
Bathonian hiatus should be reconsidered throughout the
Fig. 2. Stratigraphic scale of the Jurassic used in the Caucasus (after Ruban, 2006d). Abbreviations: L — Lower, M — Middle, U — Upper. Unzoned
intervals are shaded as gray. Dashed line marks uncertainty in the boundary definition. Regional ammonite zonation does not correspond at this scale
to the showed chronostratigraphy (it seems to be impossible to correlate them at now), but only to the stages in regional sense.
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
entire Caucasus, which may lead to a significant revision of the Middle Jurassic stratigraphy of the region.
However, in this paper I prefer the widely accepted
early–middle Callovian age of the Kamennomostskaja
Formation, an age supported by ammonites, bivalves
and belemnites (Prosorovskaya, 1979; Rostovtsev et al.,
1992; Ruban, 2005b).
The Jurassic deposits, lithologically quite variable,
outcrop in hundreds, if not thousands, of sections across the
Caucasus. The territory of the Caucasus is subdivided into
several dozen areas which are traditionally called “zones”
(Rostovtsev et al., 1992) distinguished by differences in
facies (Fig. 3). However, the term “zone” should be
abandoned to avoid confusion with biostratigraphic zones.
Fig. 3. Location of the Jurassic areas (marked by circles) in the Caucasus (after Rostovtsev et al., 1992). A — Hettangian–Bathonian areas (1–36), B —
Callovian–Tithonian areas (37–62). Areas (“subzones” and “regions” of Rostovtsev et al. (1992) are mentioned here as areas): 1 — Western Labino–
Malkinskaja, 2 — Central Labino–Malkinskaja, 3 — Eastern Labino–Malkinskaja, 4 — Western Pshikish–Tyrnyauzskaja, 5 — Eastern Pshikish–
Tyrnyauzskaja, 6 — Northern Arkhyz–Guzeripl'skaja, 7 — Eastern Arkhyz–Guzeripl'skaja, 8 — Southern Arkhyz–Guzeripl'skaja, 9 — Digoro–
Osetinskaja, 10 — Agwali–Khivskaja, 11 — Western Bokovogo Khrebta, 12 — Central Bokovogo Khrebta, 13 — Eastern Bokovogo Khrebta, 14 —
Southeastern Bokovogo Khrebta, 15 — Gojtkhsko–Atchishkhinskaja, 16 — Severoabkhazskaja, 17 — Svanetskaja, 18 — Western Glavnogo Khrebta,
19 — Central Glavnogo Khrebta, 20 — Tfanskaja, 21 — Durudzhinskaja, 22 — Western Gagra–Dzhavskaja, 23 — Eastern Gagra–Dzhavskaja, 24 —
Amuksko–Lazarevskaja, 25 — Sakaojskaja, 26 — Shakrianskaja, 27 — Vandamskaja, 28 — Kakhetino–Letchkhumskaja, 29 — Tskhenistskali–
Okribskaja, 30 — Southwestern Dzirul'skaja, 31 — Northeastern Dzirul'skaja, 32 — Loksko–Khramskaja, 33 — Alaverdskaja, 34 — Shamkhorsko–
Karabakhskaja, 35 — Kafanskaja, 36 — Araksinskaja; 37 — Lago–Nakskaja, 38 — Labinskaja, 39 — Malkinskaja, 40 — Kabardino–Dagestanskaja,
41 — Jugo–Vostotchnogo Dagestana, 42 — Sudurskaja, 43 — Shakhdagskaja, 44 — Abino–Gunajskaja, 45 — Novorossijsko–Lazarevskaja, 46 —
Svanetsko–Verkhneratchinskaja, 47 — Liakhvi–Aragvinskaja, 48 — Kakhetinskaja, 49 — Dibrarskaja, 50 — Akhtsu–Katsyrkha, 51 — Dzhirkhva–
Akhibokhskaja, 52 — Tkvartcheli–Okribskaja, 53 — Ratchinskaja, 54 — Tsessi–Kortinskaja, 55 — Iori–Tsitelitskarojskaja, 56 — Vandamskaja, 57 —
Khramskaja, 58 — Lalvarskaja, 59 — Idzhevanskaja, 60 — Dashkesano–Karabakhskaja, 61 — Kafanskaja, 62 — Nakhitchevanskaja.
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
Fig. 4. Composite lithologic sections of the Caucasian areas: Hettangian–Bathonian (based on field observations and data of Rostovtsev et al., 1992).
Location of areas — see Fig. 3. Dominating sedimentary rocks are shown. Maximum thickness (meters) is indicated to the left of each column.
I propose therefore to use the usual term “area”. Composite lithologic sections have been drawn for each of these
areas (Figs. 4, 5). In general, siliciclastics (up to 10,000 m
thick) dominate the Lower–Middle Jurassic successions,
whereas carbonates (up to 3000 m thick) prevail in the
Upper Jurassic succession (Tsejsler, 1977; Prosorovskaya,
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
Fig. 5. Composite lithologic sections of the Caucasian areas: Callovian–Tithonian (based on field observations and data of Rostovtsev et al.,
1992). Location of areas — see Fig. 3. Dominating sedimentary rocks are shown. Maximum thickness (meters) is indicated to the left of
each column.
1979; Rostovtsev et al., 1992; Tawadros et al., 2006).
In the Lesser Caucasus, volcanics and volcanoclastics
are abundant (Prosorovskaya, 1979; Rostovtsev et al.,
1985, 1992). Palaeobiogeographically, the Caucasus
belonged to the Tethyan Subrealm until the Middle
Jurassic, when it became a part of the Tethyan Realm
(Westermann, 2000).
3. Materials and methods
The method of transgression and regression evaluation
used in this study is somewhat similar to that proposed by
Ruban (2006a,b,c) and earlier by Hallam and Wignall
(1999), Peters and Foote (2001), Smith (2001), and
Crampton et al. (2003). Transgressions and regressions
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
Fig. 6. Interpreted palaeoenvironments of the Hettangian–Bathonian. Location of areas — see Fig. 3. Time slices used to evaluate sea-level changes
are shown by horizontal lines and indexes from the right side.
are defined as land- and seaward migrations of the
shorelines respectively (Catuneanu, 2006; cf. Veeken,
2006). They should be distinguished from deepenings and
shallowings, which describe water depth in the basin.
The first step in my study is to interpret the facies for
each area, based on information from Rostovtsev et al.
(1992) and personal field observations (Figs. 6, 7).
Interpretations made earlier by Ruban (2006a) were
verified and slightly revised. Three main types of
palaeoenvironments were defined: continental, shallowmarine and deep-marine. Continental palaeoenvironments are marked by a hiatus or rarely by continental
deposits usually comprising sandstones and shales with
abundant floral remains and lacking any marine fauna.
Shallow-marine palaeoenvironments are dominated by
siliciclastics or carbonates with benthonic shelfal fauna.
Deep-marine palaeoenvironments are marked by laminated dark-coloured shales and turbidites common with
submarine slumps.
The second step is to calculate the number of areas
with a particular type of palaeoenvironments for each of
the time slices. In this paper I consider three time slices
for each stage (Figs. 6, 7) rather than the single time
slice per stage used by Ruban (2006a).
Fig. 7. Interpreted palaeoenvironments of the Callovian–Tithonian. Location of areas — see Fig. 3. Time slices used to evaluate sea-level changes are
shown by horizontal lines and indices from the right side.
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
The third step was to evaluate semi-quantitatively the
transgressions and regressions with TR-index (named
ISL by Ruban, 2006a):
TR ¼ ðs þ dÞ=c;
where s, d, and c are the number of areas for each time
slice with shallow-marine, deep-marine and continental
palaeoenvironments respectively. Lower values of this
index indicate regression, whereas higher values indicate transgression.
Additionally, the semi-quantitative evaluation of
changes in the average basin slope angle, DS-index is
DS ¼ d=s:
However, this index cannot be used to document
changes of the maximum water depth of the basin. The
latter may be recorded by the appearance of deep-marine
palaeoenvironments even in the unique area. The DSindex characterizes the extent of deep-marine palaeoenvironments in palaeogeographical space in relation to
the extent of shallow-marine environments. Lower
values of the index do not indicate that the basin was
shallower at this time interval than previously when
values were higher. Rather, they indicate that the deepmarine palaeoenvironments became restricted in a little
amount of areas. The DS-index measures the average
basin slope angle. Therefore, it is necessary to take into
consideration another curve, which demonstrates the
maximum water depth of the basin. This was not made
herein since the Sinemurian deep-marine palaeoenvironments existed at least in one area of the Caucasus.
The regional tectonic processes were perhaps the principal control of the regional transgressions and regressions.
In the Jurassic, the Caucasus consisted of several basins
different from one another in origin, tectonic regime, and
general “geometry” (Lordkipanidze et al., 1984; Ershov
et al., 2003; Efendiyeva and Ruban, 2005; Tawadros et al.,
2006; Ruban, 2006d). This makes difficult an interpretation of the constrained TR- and DS-curves, as they are
attributed to the entire Caucasus. With the suggestions by
Rostovtsev et al. (1992) and Ruban (2006d) it is possible to
establish the areas, which belong to the Greater Caucasus
Basin in the Jurassic. This permits to calculate TR-index
and DS-index for this particular basin. Unfortunately, our
knowledge on the other Caucasian basins remains limited,
and we cannot attempt the same for them.
The absolute age and duration of stages mentioned in
this paper are based on the time scale of Gradstein et al.
4. Regional transgressions and regressions
Three Jurassic transgressive–regressive cycles are
recognized in the Caucasus (Fig. 8). The first Jurassic
transgressive–regressive cycle embraced the Hettangian–
Aalenian interval, lasting 28 m.y. After major Hettangian
hiatus, which can be traced across the entire Caucasus, a
gradual transgression began. In the early Toarcian, a small
regressive episode is known in the Caucasus, which was
followed by a significant transgression. A remarkable, but
short-term, regional regression occurred in the Aalenian.
The second transgressive–regressive cycle was shorter
and it embraced the Bajocian–Bathonian interval, lasting
6.9 m.y. The sea rapidly transgressed at the beginning of
the Bajocian and reached a maximum territory in the
middle–late Bajocian. In the Bathonian, the marine basin
was restricted to a size similar to that of the Sinemurian,
and at the end of the Bathonian, sedimentation was terminated within most areas of the Caucasus. This time
interval corresponded to the second major regional hiatus.
The third transgressive–regressive cycle embraced the
Callovian–Tithonian interval, lasting 19.2 m.y. A gradual
transgression took place during the Callovian and Oxfordian, and minor regressive episode was documented in the
early Oxfordian. The peak of transgression took place in
the late Oxfordian–Kimmeridgian. A significant shortterm regression occurred in the early Kimmeridgian, but
during the middle and late Kimmeridgian the sea had the
same extent as in the late Oxfordian. A gradual regression
occurred in the Tithonian, although the sea still covered a
large region at the end of the Tithonian. The Callovian–
Late Jurassic transgression explains the development of
the wide carbonate rimmed shelf with the growth of
carbonate buildups (Rostovtsev et al., 1992; Kuznetsov,
1993; Martin-Garin et al., 2002; Akhmedov et al., 2003;
Ruban, 2005a, 2006a; Tawadros et al., 2006). Very shallow
lagoonal environments were common in the Kimmeridgian–early Tithonian, where evaporties or varicoloured
shales were deposited (Tsejsler, 1977; Jasamanov, 1978;
Rostovtsev et al., 1992; Kuznetsov, 1993), which corresponded to the beginning of the end-Jurassic regression.
In the Andean region, Late Jurassic evaporitic deposition
also occurred during a regressive episode (Legaretta and
Uliana, 1996; Hallam, 2001). The same event took place
in Northeastern Africa (Tawadros, 2001, pers. comm.
2006), Arabia (Sharland et al., 2001) and Germany
(Stratigraphische Tabelle von Deutschland, 2002).
In the Greater Caucasus basin, the same transgressive–regressive cycles have been established (Fig. 8).
Only minor differences in the TR-pattern between the
entire Caucasus and the Greater Caucasus Basin are
found. The Late Plienbachian transgression was larger
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
Fig. 8. Regional transgressions and regressions and the global Jurassic curves.
in the latter, whereas the Bajocian transgression was
less. Also the regressions in the early Oxfordian and the
early Kimmeridgian were not present within the Greater
Caucasus Basin.
In contrast to the transgressive–regressive pattern, the
changes in the average basin slope angle appeared as few
short-term pulses both in the entire Caucasus and in the
Greater Caucasus Basin (Fig. 8). The first pulse occurred
in the Pliensbachian, the second pulse in the late Aalenian,
and the last in the late Bathonian. During the Late Jurassic
the Caucasus was characterized by the relatively small
number of areas with deep-marine palaeoenvironments in
contrast to the Early and Middle Jurassic.
The regionally documented shoreline migrations
might have been controlled by both global eustatic
fluctuations and regional tectonics as deduced from the
present sequence stratigraphic models (Catuneanu,
2006). The eustatic changes in the Jurassic might
have been caused by plate tectonics, plume activity and
glacioeustasy (Hallam, 1992, 2001; Veeken, 2006). A
comparison of the curve by Hallam (1988), updated in
Hallam (2001), and the curve of Haq et al. (1987),
updated recently by Haq and Al-Qahtani (2005), with the
curve of the Caucasian transgressions and regressions
(Fig. 8), suggests that their general trends correspond
quite well. However, nothing major appeared globally in
the Bathonian, when a major regression took place in the
Caucasus. The relationships between the global eustatic
fluctuations and the regionally documented transgressions and regressions were always complicated because
the eustasy is not a unique factor of the regional shoreline
migrations. McGowran (2005) even questions how
trustable are our global sea-level reconstructions based
on the regional studies.
The regional tectonic activity was potentially the main
factor, which controlled the Jurassic transgressions and
regressions in the Caucasus. The opening and extension
of the new marine basins, originated in the beginning of
the Jurassic, dominated until the early Aalenian (Ershov
et al., 2003), provoked a regional transgression. At the
same time, a subsidence of the southern margin of the
Russian Platform (Ershov et al., 2003) additionally
contributed to the latter. The late Aalenian regression
might have been a result of the “orogeny” hypothesized
by Ershov et al. (2003). The Bajocian transgression had
the same mechanism as that in the Early Jurassic. The
major Bathonian regression was a result of the other phase
of the mid-Jurassic “orogeny” (Ershov et al., 2003) or it
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
Fig. 9. Ammonite diversity dynamics in the Caucasus (data from
Rostovtsev et al., 1992).
was a consequence of the arc–arc collision proposed by
Ruban (2006d). The Callovian–Late Jurassic transgression was so large because of continuing basin extension
and subsidence of its margins (Ershov et al., 2003). As for
the end-Jurassic regression, it may be linked to the
regional compressional event and partial uplift of basin
margins (Ershov et al., 2003).
5. Transgressions and regressions and marine
biodiversity in the Caucasus
Transgressions and regressions might have been an
important factor which drove the changes in taxonomic
diversity of the marine fauna. Four fossil groups are
considered here: ammonites, bivalves, brachiopods and
belemnites as they were the principal contributors to the
marine biodiversity. The total number of species
exceeds 1200 (see review papers by Makridin and
Kamyshan, 1964; Prosorovskaya, 1993a,b; Rostovtsev
et al., 1992; Topchishvili et al., 2005; Ruban, 2004,
2005b, 2006a,c). Below, a comparison between the
changes of the total species number (Figs. 9–12), and
transgressions and regressions (Fig. 8) is shown for each
of these groups.
Fig. 10. Bivalve diversity dynamics in the Caucasus (after Ruban, 2006a).
Fig. 11. Brachiopod diversity dynamics in the Northern Caucasus (data
from Makridin and Kamyshan, 1964; Rostovtsev et al., 1992;
Prosorovskaya, 1993a,b; Ruban, 2004, 2006c). The data and curve
are attributed to the Northern Caucasus only, but they seem to be
representative for the entire Caucasus.
5.1. Ammonites
The taxonomic diversity of the Caucasian ammonites
fluctuated strongly during the Jurassic (Fig. 9). An
absolute maximum was reached in the Bajocian, while
the early Aalenian, Bathonian, late Callovian, late
Oxfordian and middle Tithonian are characterized by
significant diversity drops. Overall, a slight decline in
ammonite diversity can be documented between the
Early–Middle Jurassic and the Late Jurassic.
The ammonite diversity changes (Fig. 9) coincided
with the transgressions and regressions (Fig. 8).
Diversity rises corresponded to transgressive episodes,
and falls to regressions. However, the coincidence of the
overall transgression, documented for the entire Jurassic, contrasts with the long-term, slight species decline.
This may be explained by the abrupt change from basins
with a wide distribution of deep-marine conditions in
the Early–Middle Jurassic to shallow-marine in the Late
Jurassic. Ammonites were stenotypic organisms
(Sandoval et al., 2001a). However, the other explanation
of the Late Jurassic diversity decline may be related to
the restriction of connection between the boreal and
Fig. 12. Belemnite diversity dynamics in the Caucasus (data from
Rostovtsev et al., 1992; Topchishvili et al., 2005; Ruban, 2005b).
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
temperate–tropical realms through the Russian Platform
(Dercourt et al., 2000; Rogov et al., 2006).
5.2. Bivalves
The taxonomic diversity of the Caucasian bivalves
was low in the Early Jurassic (Fig. 10). After a small
decline in the Toarcian, it increased rapidly and a
maximum was reached in the Callovian–Oxfordian.
Then a gradual diversity drop took place, but the total
species number in the Tithonian was greater than in
There are no direct relations between the regional
bivalves diversity (Fig. 10) and transgressions and
regressions (Fig. 8) (Ruban, 2006a). For example, the
total species number rose both in the Callovian, when
transgression began, in the Aalenian, when regression
took place, and it did not fall in the Bathonian, when
major regression occurred. However, the bivalve
diversity was much higher during that time interval
when shallow-marine conditions dominated. Thus, it is
difficult to consider transgressions and regressions as a
factor which influenced bivalve diversity, and many
other factors were at least as significant.
Bathonian. A remarkable disappearance of belemnites
occurred in the Oxfordian–Kimmeridgian interval.
The same disappearance is also known in the English
Kimmeridgian (Wignall, pers. comm. 2006). The observed
patterns (Fig. 12) cannot be explained by transgressions
and regressions (Fig. 8), and it seems that other factors
were at least as important. The dominance of shallowmarine conditions does not explain the total absence of
belemnites in the Oxfordian–Kimmeridgian because there
were some deep-marine areas during this time interval.
5.5. Brief synthesis
Comparison between regional transgressions and
regressions and diversity dynamics of four fossil groups
suggests that only ammonites were influenced directly
by the former, although even for this fossil group other
factors might have been even more important (see
above). These other factors were more significant for
bivalves, brachiopods and belemnites. A detailed study
of ammonite diversity and sea-level changes in the
Cordillera Bética (south of Spain) suggests that they
were correlated (O'Dogherty et al., 2000; Sandoval
et al., 2001a,b). The same conclusion was reached with
the Caucasian data.
5.3. Brachiopods
6. Discussion
The taxonomic diversity of the North Caucasian
brachiopods changed rapidly during the Jurassic
(Fig. 11). Peaks occurred in the early Pliensbachian,
early Bajocian, Oxfordian and Tithonian, while significant drops took place in the late Pliensbachian–early
Toarcian, early Aalenian, late Bajocian–Bathonian and
Kimmeridgian. No overall changes in the total species
number are found.
There are no direct links between the changes of the
brachiopod diversity (Fig. 11) and sea level (Fig. 8). For
example, both the early Pliensbachian diversification
and the late Pliensbachian decline occurred during
gradual transgression. Only the regression in the
Bathonian led to the demise of brachiopods. But even
in this case, there is uncertainty: the diversity decline
began in the late Bajocian, slightly before the regional
regression had begun. The brachiopod diversity in the
Northern Caucasus was controlled by other factors than
transgressions and regressions.
5.4. Belemnites
The taxonomic diversity of the Caucasian belemnites
did not change significantly during the Jurassic (Fig. 12). It
remained at the same level during the Pliensbachian–
6.1. Jurassic transgressions and regressions in the
Caucasus and selected Peri-Tethyan and Neotethyan
Jurassic transgressions and regressions, reconstructed in the Caucasus, are compared to those established in some Peri-Tethyan and Neotethyan
regions. In Western Europe, two major transgressive–regressive cycles are established in the Jurassic
(Jacquin and de Graciansky, 1998; Jacquin et al.,
1998). The first was the Ligure Cycle which started in
the Late Triassic, and the peak was reached in the
middle Toarcian, when a rapid regression occurred.
The Aalenian–Bajocian transition is marked by a
widespread unconformity. The succeeding North
Sea Cycle started in the Bajocian, and the stepwise
transgression reached its maximum in the Kimmeridgian. However, minor regressive episodes occurred
in the Bathonian and Oxfordian. Since the Tithonian, a
regression took place, and this cycle ended in the
beginning of the Early Cretaceous. Although transgression and regressions in the basins of the Western
Europe are rather similar to those of the Caucasus
(Fig. 8), significant differences are evident. There is no
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
such difference between the Hettangian–Bathonian
and Callovian–Tithonian intervals in Western Europe
as it is found in the Caucasus. The principal boundary
between cycles in Western Europe is the regional unconformity at the Aalenian–Bajocian transition, while
in the Caucasus the most remarkable hiatus occurred in
the Bathonian. The latest Triassic–earliest Jurassic
transgression was rapid in Western Europe, while it
appeared later and more gradually in the Caucasus.
The peak of the Early Jurassic transgression was
reached a little later in the Caucasus.
Smith (2001) measured the outcrop area of the terrestrial/fluviatile, marine unfossiliferous and marine fossiliferous sedimentary rocks which outcrop in England
and France and concluded that the sea transgressed from
the Late Triassic until the Middle Jurassic. A minor
regressive episode was established in the Aalenian. The
second transgression occurred in the Bajocian–Bathonian although a regression took place in the Callovian.
After the next transgression in the Late Jurassic, a
remarkable regression occurred in the Berriasian. Such
changes in England and France only partly correspond
to the changes recorded in the Caucasus (Fig. 8). The
Hettangian–Aalenian records are similar, while the
Bathonian regression, which took place in the Caucasus,
is not recovered in England and France, and the
Callovian regression, though not so large as the Bathonian regression in the Caucasus, has no analogue in
England and France.
Wignall et al. (2005) reported the earliest Toarcian
regression in Western Europe, which is comparable to
that in the Caucasus.
Guillocheau et al. (2000) recognized Carnian–
Toarcian, Aalenian–lower Bathonian, lower Bathonian–Oxfordian, and Kimmeridgian–lower/upper Berriasian boundary cycles in the Paris Basin. These cycles
are difficult to trace in the Caucasus at all.
The Stratigraphische Tabelle von Deutschland (2002)
presents a detailed overview of the Jurassic formations
and facies established in Germany. Shallow-marine facies dominated in the German basins during the Jurassic,
and no pelagic facies have been identified. Regressive
episodes, documented by the high number and wider
extent of local hiatuses, occurred in the Hettangian, late
Sinemurian, middle Toarcian, late Aalenian–middle
Bajocian, Bathonian–early Callovian, late Callovian,
and Kimmeridgian–Tithonian. Only the first of these has
an analogue in the Caucasus. Some other regressions in
the German basins, such as late Aalenian–middle
Bajocian, Bathonian–early Callovian, Kimmeridgian–
Tithonian, only partly corresponded to the regressions
documented in the Caucasus (Fig. 8).
Surlyk (2003) developed a curve for East Greenland,
which demonstrates the shoreline migration. Thus, this is
essentially a transgressive–regressive curve. According to
it, a general weak-regressive trend in the Toarcian–
Bajocian changed to the prominent transgressive trend in
the Bathonian–Kimmeridgian. Among the second-order
events, the most remarkable were the early Bathonian,
middle Callovian–early Oxfordian, and Kimmeridgian
transgressions as well as the regressions at the Toarcian–
Aalenian transition, in the late Bajocian, and in the midOxfordian. The general trends documented in East
Greenland are analogous to those in the Caucasus
(Fig. 8). However, the second-order events appear to be
incomparable, except the Kimmeridgian transgression,
which is evident both in East Greenland and the Caucasus.
On the Arabian Plate, transgressions occurred in the
early–middle Toarcian, early Bajocian, early Bathonian,
Callovian–Oxfordian, middle Kimmeridgian, and late
Tithonian with a maximum in the Early Cretaceous,
while regressions took place in the late Toarcian, late
Bajocian, late Bathonian, late Oxfordian–early Kimmeridgian, and late Kimmeridgian–middle Tithonian
(Sharland et al., 2001). Only a few of these episodes had
direct analogues in the Caucasus (Fig. 8). Therefore,
transgressions and regressions documented in the latter
and in Arabia differed somewhat.
Available data and their interpretations (Schandelmeier and Reynolds, 1997; Tawadros, 2001, pers. comm.
2006; Guiraud et al., 2005) allow recognition of
chronology of transgressions and regressions in northern
and northeastern Africa. Transgression occurred during
the Early Jurassic. The Toarcian–Aalenian transition is
marked by an unconformity which seems to be a result
of regression. Then sea transgressed, although the late
Callovian and late Tithonian are marked by regressive
episodes. The peak of transgression was reached in the
Kimmeridgian. Such sea-level changes in northern
Africa do not correspond well to the changes documented in the Caucasus (Fig. 8).
Consequently, Jurassic transgressions and regressions in the Caucasus were only partly similar to those
recorded in other regions. This may be explained by
differences in the tectonic history of those regions.
6.2. Global changes in the Jurassic biodiversity and sea
A problem is the low resolution of the Jurassic global
marine biodiversity curve. The most reliable data of
Peters and Foote (2001) provide the maximum and
minimum numbers of marine genera for the Early,
Middle and Late Jurassic, but even these would allow
D.A. Ruban / Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 251 (2007) 422–436
recognition of the links with the eustatic changes. A
biodiversity curve of Newman (2001) is a bit more
detailed. The average number of Early Jurassic marine
genera is 1046. It increased up to 1425 genera in the
Middle Jurassic, and then slightly rose again up to 1446
genera in the Late Jurassic. Comparison of these
numbers with the global sea-level changes (Haq et al.,
1987; Hallam, 1988, 2001; Haq and Al-Qahtani, 2005)
(Fig. 8) shows that global marine biodiversity increased
together with eustatic rises during the Jurassic.
A comparison of the global generic diversity dynamics of Jurassic bivalves (Miller and Sepkoski, 1988) with
the eustatic changes (Haq et al., 1987; Hallam, 1988,
2001; Haq and Al-Qahtani, 2005) suggests a close
relation. A rapid eustatic rise in the Early Jurassic
provoked a significant radiation of bivalves. The next
radiation, which occurred in the late Middle Jurassic,
evidently coincided with the Bajocian–Callovian transgression. The diversity peak was reached in the Late
Jurassic at the same time when sea level was the highest.
The Tithonian eustatic fall resulted in a bivalve decline.
Earlier, Hallam (1977) also found that eustatic changes
significantly controlled the global bivalve diversity.
A comparison between the global belemnite diversity
changes (Doyle and Bennett, 1995) and sea-level
fluctuations (Haq et al., 1987; Hallam, 1988, 2001;
Haq and Al-Qahtani, 2005) suggests that all three increases in diversity of belemnites, occurring in the
Pliensbachian–Toarcian, Bajocian and Callovian–
Oxfordian, corresponded to global eustatic rises. However, belemnites declined in a stepwise pattern during the
Jurassic while sea level rose. Therefore, the links between the Jurassic sea-level changes, global marine
biodiversity and diversity of particular fossil groups are
evident on a global scale.
7. Conclusions
Three transgressive–regressive cycles have been
established in the entire Caucasus, namely the Hettangian–Aalenian, Bajocian–Bathonian and Callovian–
Tithonian cycles. Each transgression was more extensive
than the previous. The same cycles have been established
for the Greater Caucasus Basin. The Jurassic transgressions and regressions documented in the Caucasus correspond generally to the global eustatic fluctuations
recorded by Haq et al. (1987), Hallam (1988, 2001), and
Haq and Al-Qahtani (2005). The regional tectonic activity
was another important control of the regional transgressions and regressions. The Caucasian transgressions and
regressions only partly corresponded to those established
in some Peri-Tethyan and Neotethyan regions.
Jurassic transgressions and regressions influenced
the marine biodiversity in the Caucasus. However, direct
relationships between them are obvious for the ammonites only, in contrast to bivalves, brachiopods and
belemnites. On a global scale, marine biodiversity
corresponded well to the eustatic changes.
The author gratefully thanks both anonymous
reviewers, P.B. Wignall (UK), and the editor F. Surlyk
(Denmark) for their useful suggestions and constructive
criticism, J. Snelleman and K. Hair for their technical
help, Prof. R. Smosna (USA), who checked the preliminary version of this paper and made linguistic improvements, and many colleagues, including M.I. AlHusseini (Bahrain), M. Bécaud (France), N.M.M.
Janssen (Netherlands), S. Nodder (New Zealand), Ph.
Quereilhac (France), W. Riegraf (Germany), and E.E.
Tawadros (Canada), for their help with the revision of the
taxonomic lists and stratigraphic corrections, literature, and/or useful comments. V.I. Pugatchev (Russia)
is thanked for his hospitality at a local field camp “Belaja
Retchka” and various help and suggestions. P.V.
Dolmatov and my students (D.R. Valenceva, V.V.
Sklârov, and N.V. Hohlaèeva) are specially thanked for
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